Claim number: CO/464/2023
In the High Court of Justice
King’s Bench Division
12 May 2023
Sir Duncan Ouseley sitting as a High Court Judge
The King on the application of
BIM (By Madeleine SK Harris as Litigation Friend)
South Gloucestershire Council
Notification of the Judge’s decision on the application for permission to apply for judicial review (CPR 54.11, 54.12) and other issues
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant and the Defendant
ORDER by SIR DUNCAN OUSELEY sitting as a High Court Judge
- PERMISSION is granted only for Ground 3, the challenge to the age- assessment decision.
- That ground is transferred to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) which shall give al directions for the future progress of the hearing, including the question of the admissibility for that purpose of the report from Dr Argyriou.
- Permission in relation to Grounds 1,2 4 and 5 is adjourned for consideration in the light of the decision of UTIAC on the age assessment issue. After the final determination of that issue, either party may apply to the Court for determination of the outstanding permission application of for directions as to how they should be dealt with. If no application is made within 14 days of the final determination by UTIAC, the remaining claim shall stand dismissed.
- The question of venue for UTIAC’s hearing is for UTIAC.
- Interim relief by way of an order for the provision of support and accommodation under ss17 and 20 of the Children Act 1989 is refused. If UTIAC has jurisdiction to hear such an application, it can be renewed before UTIAC.
- Madeleine Harris is appointed to be the Litigation Friend, without prejudice to the arguments that BIM is in fact aged about 24.
- The Claimant is permitted to continue the proceedings, although he commenced them without a Litigation Friend.
- The Claimant is permitted to rely on his Reply to the S G Defence.
- The Claimant shall be referred to as BIM, and the case listed accordingly.
- Permission has been granted because the age assessment issue passes, albeit not by any great distance, the threshold of whether the factual information before the Court , taken at its highest, could reasonably lead to a different conclusion. This is not a conclusion that it is arguable that undue weight was placed on physical appearance or demeanour. I have considered all the material before the Court. I do not understand the test to be confined however to the material which was before the assessors.
- It is clear that the outcome of the UTIAC age assessment decision will affect the way in which permission for the other grounds is considered. They are very likely, either way to fall by the wayside or to viewed rather differently. That is not to say that aspects of them may not be relevantly deployed in the factual issues which UTIAC has to determine.
- I see no point therefore in ruling on the time and delay issues which relate to those issues, especially to Ground 1.
- There is no point in this Court transferring the proceedings at present.
- I refuse interim relief because BIM is nearly 18, on his case. I consider the risks of an adult of 24 being accommodated as a child, and supported in education as a child, and treated as a child, to be greater for other people that for someone who is nearly 18 to be accommodated with adults. He is has been in London for some months now, and a degree of stability is required. I am not persuaded that the inconsistencies in his various statements, and the limited analysis which the Reasonable Grounds decision gave to his version of events (See the questions they asked after the RG conclusion), and the yet more serious descriptions of events and feelings expressed to Dr Argyriou do other than undermine his case. I am not persuaded either that the relief sought is one which the application of Government Statutory Guidance tells the local authority it should provide once it has reached a final age assessment, and that is challenged.